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Associate Professor

PhD, 2008, The University of Chicago

Janet DownieJanet Downie received her BA in English Literature (Honours) and Classics from the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, an MA in Late Antique and Byzantine Studies from the University of London (King’s College), UK, and her PhD in Classics from The University of Chicago. From 2008 to 2014 she was Assistant Professor of Classics at Princeton University. In 2012-2013 she spent a year as a Solmsen Fellow at the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She came to UNC in 2014, where she teaches Introductory Attic Greek and graduate and undergraduate courses in Greek prose and poetry.

Janet Downie’s main area of research is Greek prose, with a focus on literature of the Roman Imperial period. She has published a monograph on the Hieroi Logoi of the second century CE writer Aelius Aristides and articles on various of his Imperial contemporaries including Galen, Philostratus, and Dionysius the Periegete. Current projects include articles on belief and doubt in Aristides’ prose hymns, on Menander Rhetor’s definition of “fictive hymns,” and on the figure of Pantheia in Lucian’s Essays in Portraiture. On a larger scale, she is working on a book about the Hellenic landscapes of Imperial Asia Minor, dealing with the representation of the space of Asia in a range of geographical, rhetorical and fictional texts from the first three centuries CE. Other long-term projects involve the Greek novel in its Imperial context, and religious literature of the Imperial period, including connections between classical and Christian frames of reference. She has ongoing interests in Greek hymns, writing- and reading- communities, and the history of medicine, health and healing.

Select Recent Publications:

At the Limits of Art: A Literary Study of Aelius Aristides’ Hieroi Logoi. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.


“Belief and Doubt in Aelius Aristides’ Isthmian Oration: To Poseidon.” In Sceptic and Believer in Ancient Mediterranean Religions, edited by B. Edelmann-Singer, Tobias Niklas, and Janet Spittler, 127-46. WUNT (Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament), Vol. 443. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2020.

“Götterlob zur Zeit Lukians: Die Prosa-Hymnen des Aelius Aristides.” (“Divine Praise in the Time of Lucian: Aelius Aristides’ Prose Hymns”; transl. by H.-G. Nesselrath). In Griechische Götter unter sich: Lukian, Göttergespräche, edited by F. Berdozzo and H.-G. Nesselrath, 167-86. SAPERE (Scripta Antiquitatis Posterioris ad Ethicam REligionemque pertinentia). Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2019.

“The Geography of Empire in Dionysius’ Periegesis: A View from the Aegean.” Classical World 110.2 (2017): 163-86.

“The Romance of Imperial Travel in Aelius Aristides’s Smyrna Orations.” In Journeys in the Roman East: Imagined and Real, edited by Maren Niehoff. Culture, Religion and Politics in the Greco-Roman Period. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2017. Pp. 53-76.

“The Experience and Description of Pain in Aelius Aristides’ Hieroi Logoi.” In The Comparable Body: Imagination and Analogy in Ancient Anatomy and Physiology, edited by J. Z. Wee, 247-74. Studies in Ancient Medicine. Leiden: Brill, 2017.

Email: jdownieATemailDOTuncDOTedu
Curriculum Vitae